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Set the Stars Alight

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Lucy Clairmont's family treasured the magic of the past, and her childhood fascination with stories of the high seas led her to become a marine archaeologist. But when tragedy strikes, it's Dashel, an American forensic astronomer, and his knowledge of the stars that may help her unearth the truth behind the puzzle she's discovered in her family home.

Two hundred years earlier, the seeds of love are sown between a boy and a girl who spend their days playing in a secret sea cave, while the privileged young son of the estate looks on, wishing to join. As the children grow and war leads to unthinkable heartbreak, a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption unfolds, held secret by the passage of time.

As Lucy and Dash journey to a mysterious old estate on the East Sussex coast, their search leads them to a community of souls and a long-hidden tale that may hold the answers--and the healing--they so desperately seek.

367 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 30, 2020

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About the author

Amanda Dykes

13 books949 followers
Amanda Dykes is a drinker of tea, dweller of redemption, and spinner of hope-filled tales who spends most days chasing wonder and words with her family. She's the winner of the 2020 Christy Award Book of the Year, a Booklist 2019 Top Ten title, and the winner of an INSPY award for her debut novel, Whose Waves These Are. She’s also the author of Set the Stars Alight (a Christy Award finalist), Yours is the Night (recipient of the Kipp Award), All the Lost Places (starred reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, and Foreword), and three novellas. Find her online at amandadykes.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 628 reviews
Profile Image for Amanda.
Author 13 books949 followers
May 5, 2020
Well, this is awkward...I accidentally marked "currently reading" on my own book. So now, what do I do? Rate it? (Nope, not going to happen!) Say I've finished it? (Yep, finished it about 5 times over in the editing process-- a different book each time!) Or maybe just tell you that as I wrote this book, this "fight for light", this act of mining for wonder, I wondered but never could have imagined what would be happening in the world upon its release, a year after finishing writing the original draft. What a time we live in. I dearly hope, and deeply pray, that this story might help to spin a shaft of light into any shadows you are facing, reader-friends. These times are hard… but hope is so real. And so is light.
Profile Image for Rachel McMillan.
Author 25 books1,079 followers
June 4, 2020

Here's the deal, about a trillion years ago, a writer made sure I had a copy of her novella Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale. Which was just one long string of achingly beautiful imagery tied up with a Christmas bow. She had also written another novella called Tin Can Serenade and I kept wondering what the heck was wrong with the publishing world because where were the FULL LENGTH AWARD WINNING NOVELS. Well, I was a die hard fan. Everything this author touched turned to poetry. Frig, even her pinterest page was art.

And then I was asked (privileged) (squealed) to endorse her full length debut "Whose Waves These Are" and I watched, rapt, as everyone slowly fell in love in the way I knew they would when you become breathless at a depth of talent that makes you blink twice and sit there in awe. A talent that makes you giddy to be alive when people can write stories that will just thrill the world over. And you feel blessed that there are people who were challenged to handle the words and arrange them to light hearts the world over and slowly flicker warmth that starts in your toes and moves up: that's a Dyke's story, timeless and old as words themselves, seeking cracks to extol all that we need to know about the depth of humanity and winsomely told as if she is creaking up a log to a campfire as you put another marshmallow on a stick.

Anyways, enough back story:

Meet the watchmaker's daughter, Lucy, who lives in a world of story: her father unfolds the streets and legends of London to her so that everything is a riddle wrapped in a fairytale: from the winding, murky Thames, to the churchbells to the stars. So adamant is he that she be shrouded in a word of story, he tugs in a Lost Boy who might just be from the Second Star on the Right and Straight on til Morning , and into her cloistered world comes enigmatic Dash: for nights of lavender shortbread and tea and a way to trace the constellations he pursues while shoving his glasses up his nose.

A million stars ago, a boy named Frederick Hanford looked out to the sea and knew his destiny was wrought in smoke and oakum and knew that the great vessels that filled the harbour would be where he would find his glory. But, nearby a young girl and a cave and a shepherd and churchbells threaded through his life.And as he grew, so did his fate become intertwined with Elias, and with Juliette, and his first sacrifice of many found him saving her from a press gang and before his time, and with an unlikely ally and brother, he sets to sea, wrapped up in a sea shanty, the subject of infamy, an unlikely mystery to be solved centuries later...

Lucy survives tragedy and finds herself losing her father's stories,even as his watch ticks in her pocket, even as her family is taken, even as Dash returns to America and their close bond is severed. In adulthood, she is determined to follow the legend of the missing ship Jubilee as well as excavate the hidden story of Frederick Hanford, traitor to England. While pitching a proposal for a research grant to excavate the Jubilee in Greenwich, she is overtaken by Dash, now a forensic astronomer who knows that the stars can guide the way to hidden treasure and sunken ships.

Together, they map the stars and the sea and the ringing of nearby churchbells to marry legend with truth and unfold a story so gut-punchingly beautiful that your stomach will ache. In the meantime, they sew up the years that gapped between them and swap their own tales: Lucy ticking through time, as London crept on, Dash orbiting his beloved stars even while his heart was tucked with her on earth.

Resplendently told in a long ebb of poetic prose, Set the Stars Alight is thematic and resonant with achingly wonderful imagery and a truly brilliant sense of place.

This is the best type of yarn. Dykes is one of the most naturally gifted storytellers I have ever encountered and her imagination in the sewing of this fantastically rich and ultimately creative tale is nothing short of genius. Dash, sleuth to the stars, Lucy who gazes up through a film of tragedy, their future as certainly written as the long stanzas dedicated to the traitor man Hanford in meta after meta form of storytelling in storytelling: all reading so fluidly words slip through your fingers and you're up at 1 am and just giving in and finishing it in one fell swoop.

I mean who.... WHO... would think of throwing so many hallmarks of the western tradition and oral narrative into a blender and come out with this? Fairy tales and rhymes, sea stories and legends, sheep and ocean and stars. It is testament to the vast world in her mind that she can convey all with such wonderfully brilliant and surprising turns. Each character is worth deep-heart investment in and each chapter is a surprise and because she writes with such an ease and flourish, her descriptive writing is so mind blowingly good that she makes it look easy.

Dash thinks of Lucy as an M4 -a terminology in astronomy that tells us the stars sing. Lucy was told by her father in childhood that she is the light that gets in, Dash finds that in constellations a million miles away that cannot sneak out their sound. Dykes sings. There's no other word for how her words flow so perfectly together in meticulous arrangement.

"But the meaning beneath the letters, the words with a heartbeat and a soul, was for Elias. Frederick drew strict boundaries around the stubborn thing that beat in his chest."

"But he'd blown onto the farm like a rogue window, voice rough and deep with gravel, full of story and lore"

"And he looked back, a mirror of her questions"

"Her breath came quick as if her lungs knew the words she meant to speak could cost her much."

"Tradition is like oxygen around here, you see. So every year, the Shepherd's bells ring and we remember. "

"As if every moment between then and now had been leading up to this, the homecoming of their hands."

"If all the sorrow in the world could gather up and land in side a single soul, it had done so in Dash."

"Juliette took flight where there was no sky. This was a place of impossible. And what a beautiful impossible it was."

I mean it helps that so much of this is my natural catnip: sea stories and London and churchbells and romance. But underscored by the fact that all are lovingly held in the clutch of a master.

I once read a review that said the author "writes like an angel"

I never knew what that meant. But that's because I hadn't read Amanda Dykes yet.

Profile Image for Melissa Tagg.
Author 29 books1,496 followers
June 4, 2020
I read Amanda Dykes’ newest book almost two weeks ago (thank you, NetGalley) and I still haven’t written the review because, well, I just don’t have words for how beautiful it is! Seriously. It’s just gorgeous…it’s lyrical and enchanting, heartbreaking in some places and so inspiring and uplifting in others. Every little detail feels perfectly placed and meaningful in a way that honestly astounds me. Last year, Amanda’s first novel—Whose Waves These Are—was my favorite book of the year (and it's right up there with some of my favorite-of-all-time books), so needless to say, I had crazy high expectations…and I’m so thrilled that Set the Stars Alight exceeded them by far!

And just to nerd out as a writer for a sec: I remember saying to an author friend last year that the writing in Whose Waves These Are felt somehow wild and free. Which might sound silly, but that’s how it felt to me. And I would say the exact same thing for this story. I think as writers, it can be so routine to labor over the technicalities of sentences and paragraphs and structure and follow a bunch of story crafting rules–and none of that is wrong. It’s good! And I’m definitely not saying Amanda Dykes is breaking all the rules or disregarding grammar or anything like that. But it just feels like this story and the writing go beyond rules. Every once in awhile, I’ll read a book where you can almost feel the author’s intense labor—the polish and punchiness. (Again, not necessarily a bad thing.) But in this one, I felt the author’s heart. I mean, I'm sure it took immense labor to write it!! But it was like listening to a song versus just reading the lyrics. I don’t know if any of what I just said makes sense. But bottom line, the writer in me is just blown away…and also inspired to let myself write with a little more freedom and wonder.

Speaking of, this story is threaded with wonder all the way through. And I adored that!

Basically I loved every little thing about it. And I am now more interested in stars and sunken ships than I ever would’ve guessed I could be. Also, Dash is adorable. :)
Profile Image for Deanne Patterson.
1,908 reviews76 followers
July 9, 2020
In all honesty I have never read a book quite like this one. One that I wish I could give so many more stars than five to.
The book hits a dark spot but it claws it's way out of the dark, it's hope, it's light, it's inspiration .
I loved the character's and there's no doubt the author makes them come alive on the pages for us.
The imagery I had reading this, I was just in awe as I could picture everything so vividly .
After reading this my reading senses have been reawakened and I will perceive books on a deeper level now rather than just take them at face value and I appreciate the author opening up these senses for me again.
This book will live on in my heart as unforgettable!

Published June 30th 2020 by Bethany House Publishers.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book. Thank you.
All opinions expressed are my own.

Profile Image for Dash fan .
1,467 reviews717 followers
October 3, 2020
5☆ Simply Magical & Captivating, A Must Read for 2020!

Set the Stars Alight is truly a captivating and magical novel that I couldn't put down and can't recommend enough!

As soon as I read the blurb and caught sight of the book cover I was mesmerised.
This is my first book by Amanda Dykes and it's definitely not going to be my last.

Set the Stars Alight is an Enchanting, Captivating, Compelling and Heart Warming story that will have you Engrossed with stories of mystery, adventure, astronomy, the stars, the sea, light and darkness, friendship, heartbreak, family, romance and love. Told between dual timelines.

I haven't written anything about the plot because I truly believe this is a book that you need to discover for yourself.
It's magical, a lil whimsical / fairytale, uplifting yet poignant and heartbreaking, but once you pick it up.... you most definitely won't want to put it down!

Amanda Dykes is an incredibly talented author, she has written a richly atmospheric tale, that's beautifully plotted, and she weaves the stories together seamlessly.
The Characters are endearing, loveable and memorable.
The setting descriptions are superb and totally absorbing, this book truly is a book that just keeps giving.

Set the Stars Alight Is the perfect read for snuggling up with, so dim the lights, grab a hot drink, cookies and a blanket and prepare to be swept away! Enjoy!

Thank you to Love Books Tours for this copy which I reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

You can Find this Review and all my Other Reviews on My Blog :-

Profile Image for Missy.
321 reviews67 followers
August 1, 2020
I don’t think Amanda Dykes could disappoint. To take a story about a long lost ship, the broken patriarchal relationship between a father and son, then finding a family who takes him as he is, and then that boy giving his life to make sure the daughter has all she ever needs. In duel time, the simple stories of a watchmaker, his wife, and daughter taking in the lost soul of a boy and bringing all his dreams to realization and watching out for their daughter even though she didn’t know it.

The stories of Fredrick, Elias, and Juliette in 1811 and how Frederick looked to them as family. To help Elias become the husband and father he should be to Juliette and their unborn child, but in order to do so disgrace his own father. It was Juliette who Fredrick felt he owed the most for her father saved him, but her father’s death was most on his mind and he felt his hands. When Fredrick is arrested for treason, a mysterious person helps him and disappears on the Jubilee.

In 2020 Dash, an astrologer who uses the stars to solve age old mysteries, and Lucy who is searching for the long lost Jubilee meet again after years away, with wounds of hurt, and a lifetime of stories from her mum and dad that may or may not lead to the mysterious Jubilee.

I loved this story and how the two stories intersected. Thank you to Netgalley For this advanced copy. I was not compensated for my review.
Profile Image for Ava (✿◕‿◕✿).
66 reviews36 followers
May 18, 2023
let's pretend it didn't take me a week to read this lolll

literally crying rn I didn't want it to end 😭😭😭

full rtc! <3


Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.


God gave Amanda Dykes such a marvelous talent for crafting stories. I would happily spend the rest of my life reading them! 🥹💜

It’s so brilliant how she does paralleling dual POVs in different eras ahhh it gives me chills lol. I absolutely loved it in Whose Waves These Are and it did not disappoint in this one. 😉😉😉

andddd the Biblical themes!!! It was so beautiful and fulfilling 😭🤍

Now let’s talk about the A M A Z I N G characters 🤭🫶🏻

Modern timeline:

oh my goodness I loved Lucy with all of my heart 🥹🥹🥹 first, she has the most adorable name in the history of adorable names lol AND it means ✨light✨ which fit the story so well! Amanda usually has her mcs as adults (I think Lucy was 30) and her maturity level was honestly so refreshing. 😅 She had such a beautiful soul… how does Amanda write so tangible characters?!

FOUND👏🏻FAMILY👏🏻TROPE👏🏻 will always be my favorite and it went so well with Dash’s character. He deserved sm better than he got and I’m glad he found it with Lucy and her family!!! 🤍🤍🤍 it was so sweet! Dash just had SO MUCH depth! His personality was so cute I love cinnamon role guys>>>

Historical timeline:

Can someone pass the tissues?! Fred’s utter unselfishness and love towards others had me bawling 😭😭😭 his POV was just a little slow at times but he’s such a great character! ✨John 15:13✨

�� Juliette:
she was… feisty 😅😅 I wasn’t a fan of how she treated Fred in the beginning but she definitely redeemed herself! She also experienced so much pain and heartbreak it was amazing how she just kept smiling 🫶🏻🫶🏻🫶🏻

This was a beautiful tale of light shattering the darkness, redeeming love, and hope for the ages.

mwah! 👋🏻🥰
Profile Image for Breny and Books.
157 reviews161 followers
October 21, 2021
Oh my goodness, This book has touched my heart in such a way...I have no words.

Amanda, if you ever read this, I just want to say THANK YOU. Thank you for writing such a beautiful story of hope and light.

I don't even know where to start. I just merely finished reading the book a couple of minutes ago, and I'm still trying to process everything.

I could never have imagined that a split time story could be this powerful...could be weaved so beautifully the past and the present, like melody and harmony, creating a beautiful story of wonder.

The story starts with the life of Lucy, a little girl named after the light, one who dreams of dragon liars and of adventures sailing the seas galore. Yet she lives a quiet life listening to her father, the watchmaker, tell her stories by the fire, surrounded by the tender care of her mother, the three of them living in their little glasshouse in London.

Then one day a lost boy with huge round rim glasses and messy hair filters into their lives, filling it with star wonder, galaxies, and nebulae, opening doors to hidden worlds through his telescope. He becomes part of the watchmaker's family, the best friend Lucy never had, and they grow together, imagining their castles in the sky, planning their future, always drinking the wonders of the universe in their own simple little ways.

At the same time, we have the story of another lost boy, though his story is set far away in time from Lucy's and Dash's.

It is the 1800's and among wealth and prestige, a boy is being raised to conquer seas, to bring honor and glory to his family. But he is broken, lost, void of the things that makes everyone's hearts tick, love.

But then, the stars guide him to meet a shepherd, a girl, and a stubborn boy. It is then that he makes a vow, to protect them, to be there for them, to even give their life for this family he couldn't call his own.

Because he has made a mistake, a terrible error he would never forgive himself from, one that would hunt him to the grave, and maybe, just maybe, the nightmares would cease if he pledged himself to them. To the girl with wings made for the sun.

The story of these pairs of friends progress in time though the book, we see friends grow together, friends drift apart, friends unite... yet the stars are always the ones to bring them home. To shine the story, the Creator wrote for them since the beginning, one of hope, wonder, and light.

Oh, guys, I can't-

This story has made me so emotional. It is so beautiful, so deep.

When I first started reading it, I had no idea how Amanda would be able to bring both stories together. Yet she did marvelously.

The faith message in the book is also beautiful. To think God has written the story of our lives, that nothing happens because of luck, that everything was carefully planned by him, the Creator of the galaxies and of you.

The story is slow, but at the same time, I think I can't imagine it any other way. It brings a certain charm to it. It makes it peaceful, not rushed.

Because of the pacing, the book seems long, just a heads up for the readers who like their fast-paced books.

Amanda's writing is so beautiful, deep yet poetical, but at the same time engaging. It draws you into the story makes you feel so many things for the characters.

The characters were also superb. Each one was crafted with a unique voice and was not put on the page without a purpose. They stirred the plot forward and sprinkled the book with light.

Set the Stars Alight will hold a special place in my heart.

I will say, the synopsis doesn't make the book justice. Yet, I can't think of one that will...It is one of those books that holds too much wonder and light in it, the only way for you to savor it is by reading it yourself.

Again, thank you, Amanda.

Cleanness: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5  (Glad to say this book is so so clean...Squeaky clean 😂❤️)

Plot: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5

Characters: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. All thought are my own and I was not required to write a positive review*
Profile Image for Amanda (BookLoverAmanda).
347 reviews293 followers
January 26, 2023
This book took me a while to get through but I’m glad I finished! 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 on Goodreads. Amanda Dykes’ writing style is poetic, whimsical and magical. I liked our characters, storyline and mysterious aspect throughout the book. However, because I had to spend so much time trying to figure out what was going on throughout the story, specifically early on, it wasn’t a favorite read of mine. That is more of a personal thing – not necessarily anything against the book or author itself, so I’m rating this based on my personal reading experience. I know I missed several things in this story along the way, but I sort of challenged myself to get through this and see how I felt, and I am so glad I did. What a beautiful story of love, loss, history and magical stories.

The story is a multi-timeline historical fiction, with snippets of romance throughout the story. It’s hard to describe Amanda’s writing style without saying magical, flowery, poetic, artistic, etc. She writes so beautifully though that I sometimes miss what’s going on – again a personal thing. I also had a hard time keeping up with the many different timelines at the beginning but once we got going, I was ok with the timeline switches because they stayed the same.

We follow early 2000s and 2020 with our characters Lucy and Dash. They are best friends from a very young age. Dash doesn’t have parents so he lives with his Aunt who isn’t very fond of him. So, Dash ends up becoming a big part of Lucy’s family very young. Her Dad tells these beautiful stories, so they are a perfect family together…. When one day, Lucy’s mother passes away and her entire family is changed. The stories become a way to reach into their grief and fight the darkness surrounding them. Dash ends up going away to school, leaving Lucy with her sick father. Lucy always loved the stories her father would tell and one story she is interested in is the missing HMS Jubilee ship. She pulled books of maritime history, shipwrecked mystery, and ocean currents as she has always wanted to know about this shipped disappearance. Cut to 200 years prior in the early 1800s, we follow Frederick Handford who is goes abord the Jubilee ship, proving to be full of courage and kindness. Frederick is considered to be a traitor to England, but in this story we learn all about the missing ship and the secret story of his past with his friend Elias and Juliette….

What a multi-layered story that Amanda interweaved two timelines together for us to learn all about each character’s journey throughout their lives. We have so much sadness throughout the journey but we always have hope, light and faith that things will work out for the best.

The way this story ended and tied everything together was beautiful. I wish I had a better reading experience personally throughout, but still overall appreciate the story and glad I finished. This was my first Amanda Dykes book and I plan to check out Yours is the Night and All the Lost Places at least. 3.5 stars
Profile Image for Beth.
783 reviews318 followers
July 2, 2020
Amanda Dykes has a signature style for sure. It’s poetic, lyrical, a bit whimsical, and wholly her own. It feels a bit like magic, but somehow all of the layers come together into something true and beautiful.

The modern day storyline involves watchmaker’s daughter, Lucy, with a heart for the sea, meeting and befriending Dash, a boy with a heart for the stars. Though time and circumstance pull them apart, later the stars and the sea bring them back together to solve a historical mystery. Lucy has set much of her academic life as a marine archaeologist on finding out what happened to a ship that disappeared two hundred years ago. Dash, an expert in his field, just might be able to help her find the answers that she needs.

Two hundred years ago, near the coast of Sussex, Frederick is the young son of a grand estate, learning everything there is to know about ships and sailing. At the same time, he craves freedom and a place to belong. As his story entwines with that of a shepherd’s daughter and another local boy, the layers build gently until the reader is left wondering where the thread began and what could Dykes possibly do to unravel this tale. Yet, she does so with finesse and ease. Though the historical story took me a bit longer to settle into, but its depth grew with each scene, and I was soon eager to know how things turned out for these characters.

The way everything relates to the present day story is well-woven tale indeed. There is such a sense of whimsy to her stories and so much charm, including fairytale-like stories, hidden paintings, secret caves, mysterious church bells, and so much more. You really just have to read it to appreciate it in all its winsome goodness. There is a substantial amount of grief, but Dykes never leaves out hope. In fact, I would say that her stories are often about acknowledging the hope’s light, even when it’s unseen, holding onto grief and hope equally, realizing there is beauty in both:

“The One who is coming…and coming…and coming after you. Fighting for your heart. Every breath a gift. He sets the stars alight, my girl. And we open our eyes to this in benevolent defiance of the dark…by remembering. Take note. Live deeply.”

I hope I always take note, live deeply, and lean into the light. I hope we all do.

I received a complimentary advanced copy of this novel from the publisher; this review is my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Sarah Sundin.
Author 18 books2,853 followers
July 29, 2020
Sigh. Some books come along and leave you…dreamy. Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes is such a book. The writing is ethereal, the story wondrous. There’s something magical about the book that pulls you in as stories did when you were little and anything was possible. But the message, the heartbreak, and the depth of the symbolism elevates this above a simple tale. I feel bereft of words and yet overflowing with words, all at the same time. All I can say – read this book.
Profile Image for Jocelyn Green.
Author 31 books1,320 followers
July 7, 2020
Set the Stars Alight is one of those rare novels where the title is as beautiful as the cover is stunning, and the story not only lives up to the expectation immediately set by those two first impressions, but manages to exceed it. ⁠

This is not a novel to rush through. Its literary quality begs the reader to slow down, savor each word and line, to allow each layer to unfold at its own pace. And there are many layers! I'm astounded by the depth and breadth #AmandaDykes poured into this one book. By the end, I felt I'd read two completely satisfying stories, not because of how long it took me to read, but because both were thoroughly told. How does she do that?? ⁠

This novel inspires wonder in its characters and in its readers. There is light in the dark. Keep reaching for it. What a timely message for right now. ⁠
Profile Image for Lou Allen.
197 reviews107 followers
February 4, 2023
Story Rating 10/10 Christian Faith Rating 3/3
I loved this book – it has gone onto my list of all-time favourite Christian fiction. I loved the style of writing. It is very rich, and I had to take my time to fully digest it.
The book follows two timelines – in the present day, Lucy is a girl living with her clockmaker father in a cottage in London. She makes friends with Dash, who is a loner boy. The story continues when they are adults. Lucy is driven by her curiosity to find out what happened to the ship The Jubilee.
The story set in the past follows a character called Frederick during the Napoleonic wars, and his story combines with the present-day quest.
It was the writing that made this book so great for me. It was beautiful and sometimes poetic. I loved how much emotional subtext I got from the descriptions. It’s definitely not a book to speed read!
I loved the Christian elements and the allegory of Jesus that the story represented. I am sure I will re-read this book at some point.
Profile Image for Hannah.
2,449 reviews1,337 followers
February 22, 2021
An atmospheric and absorbing story of two sets of characters and the threads that tie their stories together.

I tried several times to get into the story and each time the 2020 timeline totally threw me off because of the book being written beforehand and completely being unaware of the whole covid mess. England with meetings and people hopping from town to town to visit each other was just a bit much. Pet peeve anyway, because authors setting stories gently in the future can’t drop little realistic hints about the current times, and the story feels more generic than realistic. I had to keep pretending it was 2019 to get through the story. This continual “check the facts at the door” every time we flipped back to modern day kept snapping me out of the story and is part of the reason I didn’t add a fifth star.

I love the cover...it’s the sort of cover you buy a book for, and it’s even prettier in person.

I identified most with Lucy and Dash. The historic timeline was occasionally vivid but incomplete, and having to infer certain things happened was a bit of a letdown at the end.

The writing style is beautiful and carries much of Dykes’s trademark poetic touch in the prose. I’m eager to read her next book and already preordered a copy at the bookstore.

Thanks to the publisher for a free reading copy. A favorable review was not required.
Profile Image for Sarah Monzon.
Author 22 books456 followers
June 11, 2020
Amanda Dykes whispers to each reader who opens the pages of this book, “Cuddle close. Scooch in.” With magic in her fingertips, she spins a timeless tail of wonderment and mystery, always whispering, “just think.” The impossible might not be so impossible after all. Broaden your minds. Let the story expand your reasoning.
Written in artistry, Set the Stars Alight isn’t a book meant to entertain. It’s meant to work as a parable—a lesson in story form that adheres to your mind, unfolding layer after layer of dazzling truth, which is this... No matter how dark the world gets, seek out the brilliant light, like a thousand shinning stars at midnight.
Profile Image for Sarita.
1,144 reviews638 followers
January 1, 2021
This story was definitely beautifully written. This author is my ‘out of my comfort zone’ challenge with the way she writes. I loved how her historical story symbolizes Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

Though I really enjoyed this author’s first book, I found myself bored with this one. The Historical plot took a while to get into and while I have connected better with the modern day characters, the subject matter was, for me, not very interesting.

Other readers loved it though, so if you like the lyrical type of writing style and you loved this author’s debut, definitely give this one a try.

*I received a complimentary copy via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.*
Profile Image for Jayna Baas.
Author 3 books410 followers
February 23, 2022
How does Amanda Dykes do it? How does she make a book feel like rich, lyrical storytelling instead of just plain telling? How does she pull me into two timelines so well I don’t want to leave either one?

I intended to take this slowly and savor it. And really, given my normal speed, I did. It started slowly; the first seven chapters felt like one long prologue, but it was okay. (How does she do that?) Since I’ve always been fascinated with maritime history, I especially loved that part of the plot. As with Whose Waves These Are , the modern-day romance was right up my alley: slow, gentle, caring, focused on genuine friendship instead of surface attraction. The cheesy puns, the lobbing of Shakespeare quotes, the knowing of each other’s hearts—it made for a deep, beautiful relationship. And the sprinkling of Britishisms was nicely done. I would have liked to see more of Lucy’s and Dash’s fascinating careers, but I enjoyed the glimpses I did get. Admittedly, there were some parts I struggled to follow and some aspects that I felt stretched the limits of believability. I’m also not fond of historical heroines who take on masculine roles or disguise their gender, although that didn’t last very long and certainly led to some interesting developments. The selection from Handel’s Messiah was a bit out of context—but I still loved having it referenced! And even though I was a smidge uncomfortable with part of the historical storyline, once again Amanda Dykes successfully avoided awkwardness. (Somehow every time I think, No, don’t go there—she doesn’t. How does she do that?)

I am wowed by Dykes’s deft hand with dual timelines. Neither story spoiled the other; rather, they strengthened each other until I had to have a happy ending but didn’t want either story to end at all. Friendship, courage, sacrifice regardless of whether it’s deserved or even successful—this is an example of Christian fiction that doesn’t have a lot of overt references to the gospel, yet somehow displays the heart of redemption and gives a sense of wonder at the Great Awesome Truth (“the truest story of all”) woven through the story. Life is like that, I think, or should be. Lovely story, gorgeous cover, recommended to anyone who wants a sweet, slow read to savor and experience and think about long afterward.
Profile Image for E.C..
Author 1 book80 followers
September 11, 2021
Seeped in a magical setting, beauty, and HOPE, SET THE STARS ALIGHT swiftly climbed my "favorite historical fiction reads" list and made it to the very top.

This book is SO GORGEOUS. Imagine the aesthetic of ANNE'S HOUSE OF DREAMS in a historical + contemporary (dual POV) setting, combined with beautiful prose.

In my mind, that equals perfection.

It's the type of book that reminds me of HOME. Of hope, finding all things lost, and discovering soul-friends in seaside towns. With a bit of Earl Gray thrown into the mix.

Okay. My fangirling aside, the only way to arrange my thoughts is in a comprehensive list. So here we go. ;)

- The characters. Okay. DASH. He and Lucy's relationship was so priceless, in a way that they teased and joked with each other like siblings, but he was also so caring and sweet and thoughtful.
The other characters were also extremely relatable and lifelike—from Sophie to Juliette. They all seemed so REAL—something that I feel is really hard to nail in fiction.

- The writing style. It was purely gorgeous, just like Amanda Dykes' novels always are. 'Nuff said.

- I love how the author wove the setting into the story in a natural but still compelling way. I felt like I was right THERE with the characters, in the caves and Lucy's house in the hill. But at the same time, the descriptions weren't laborious or boring—instead, they were delicate and deliberately placed.

- The pain. I have no idea how Dykes manages to weave such emotion into her stories, but they always shine through. I HURT right along with Frederick. I could feel his need to make up in some way to Juliette and Elias. I could feel his guilt and pain.

- The themes. This story combines a gorgeous starry aesthetic with meaningful, heartfelt themes of hope, love, and sacrifice, all dealt with in a Biblical way. While there was Christianity mentioned in this book, it didn't come across as preachy.

Overall, if you're a fan of soulful stories like me, I cannot recommend this one enough. READ IT. You won't regret it. 😉
Profile Image for Heidi Chiavaroli.
Author 14 books896 followers
June 20, 2020
Wow. A simply amazing book. Not only is Amanda's writing prose beyond compare, this story is one of the most beautiful I've read in a long time. It's a split-timeline novel, but it's so much more than that. It's a beautiful parable breathing fairytale-like qualities alongside gentle romance, a puzzle that comes to perfect completion with its satisfying end. Amanda Dykes is, quite simply, a master storyteller, and this is a masterpiece of a story.
Profile Image for Caitlin Miller.
Author 8 books188 followers
February 9, 2023
Hands down one of the best books out there. Dykes is an incredible writer, and this book left me breathless and inspired to write something as magical, truth-filled, and impactful. 10/10 recommend!
Profile Image for Sydney.
440 reviews98 followers
February 8, 2023
Oh this book. The more I read it, the more I loved it. It's just so magical. Maybe one day I'll be eloquent enough to fully explain my thoughts, but for now... Love, love, love.♡♡♡
Profile Image for Christine Indorf.
730 reviews122 followers
January 17, 2021
I have to say I loved this book. The first few chapters I needed tissues to keep on reading. I love the story of Lucy and Dash, the watchmaker and his wife. Growing up in a household of stories and books, what could be greater? When grown up Lucy is on her own she want to fine the ship the Juliblee, can she with Dash's help? The story to me, was like poetry. The word flowed and the story almost became magical. Why did i give it 4 stars? I didn't like the ending. Amanda Dykes was brave to write it the way she did and for many would love the ending, but I did not. It did not make me dislike the book but just a little less than what I thought I would. If you like a book that uses languages like poetry and words to take you to a new place, you must read this book. This book follows 2 duel time periods, which most of Amanda Dykes books does. Both periods were wonderful to follow. Fredrick was a wonderful character who did so much for others even though most of the time no one knew what he has done. I highly recommend this book. Be ready to cry and have adventures and the story of love. Amanda Dykes is soon becoming one of my favorites authors. Read Set the Stars Alight and you will see why!
Profile Image for Angie H.
227 reviews59 followers
December 20, 2020
Well I really don't know how to write a review for this book. It was a beautiful story and beautifully written. ( and I don't normally describe books this way). Amanda just has a way with words. Even when I had no idea what was going on I was captivated by the writing. The faith elements woven throughout the book were subtle but impactful. I could probably gush more but from my 5 star rating it is probably pretty clear that I loved this book!
Also if you read this book make sure you don't skip the authors note at the end. It is worth the read!
Profile Image for Morgan Giesbrecht.
Author 1 book75 followers
June 9, 2022
All possible words to describe my feelings for this book escape me! Amanda blows my mind; her prose is absolutely stunning, her stories full of hope and heart break. She is an auto-buy author for me. :)

Honestly, I loved everything about this book!! 😍 The dual timelines. The title. The plot line. The characters: Frederick, Juliette, Elias, Lucy, Dash, Simon & Penny, Violette, Spencer, Clara, Sophie…they are precious and hold a piece of my heart. And the details and research that went into this?! Ah-mazing!!! Then of course the themes: hope, light, being who God made you to be, identity, brotherhood, friendship. And I related to Lucy so much…an old soul trying to find herself and her place in a fast paced world. So good! 💛

This was one of my top reads from 2021 and one of my favourites books of all time. It was every bit as magical to read the second time around! 🥰
Profile Image for Christina.
281 reviews30 followers
July 21, 2023
Amanda Dykes is such a talented writer. Dual timelines 200 years apart tell us the story of the lost Jubilee, and so much more.
Profile Image for Staci.
1,792 reviews541 followers
June 21, 2020
Incredibly unique blending of two time periods largely through the use of fables or passed down stories. In the current day thread, Lucy befriends Dashel when they are both young children. They are lonely children and their friendship is a bright light. Lucy's father spins tales for them to enjoy and learn from.

Two hundred years prior there is a young boy, Frederick, that like Dashel feels rather alone in the world.

There is a mystery that bridges these two stories and it was enjoyable to see if unfold. While the contemporary story drew me in quickly, the tale from the past took a bit longer to engage my full interest. Ultimately though, I found myself anxious to see how things would turn out for all of them.

My gratitude to publisher Bethany House for a complimentary NetGalley copy of the novel. I was not required to post a review and all opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
1,907 reviews108 followers
July 6, 2020
"I can't shake the feeling that we've somehow found ourselves right smack in the middle of one of his tales. But instead of hearing it, we're living it."

Lucy Claremont's beloved father was a story teller extraordinaire. Mesmerizing his young daughter and her best friend Dashel Greene with fireside compendiums, Lucy and Dash often wondered where the truth disappeared and the fairy tale began. Eventually Dash left London to follow his dreams and Lucy became stuck in hers, until in the midst of crippling grief hope reappears and an age-old mystery grabs hold of her heart. It seems that the old watch maker knew how to "set the stars alight", after all.

What a luscious story! Impossible to describe, yet quite impossible to ignore. Words sing off every page, while harmonizing with characters who are so beautifully painted into their settings that readers will instinctively gape at their loveliness. The height and depth of this story's implications are immeasurable, for "God is the pursuer of your heart, Lucy, . . . . In every sunset, in every snatch of birdsong. In everything that stirs deep into you and makes you hungry for bigger, eternal things. . . . . He is there, filling your soul, giving you breath."

This author has the unique ability to take what is seen, and gently fashion it into an imprint of what is unseen, in order to leave a lasting impression on the hearts of her readers in a deeply personal way. It will be nearly impossible to gaze into the heavens, without recalling this story.
Profile Image for Camille Eide.
Author 8 books329 followers
August 17, 2020
I won't summarize the story as others do that very well, if summary of the plot is what you're looking for. I tend to come away from a book in a more or less philosophical state of mind. Less if it barely scratched the surface of my soul, more if it dug down deep, fiddled with my heart, mind, and soul, and captivated me. This book is definitely the latter.

Set the Stars Alight is a lyrical tale of love, loss, hope, and light, so moving, so powerful, so rich and satisfying like a timeless tale spun by an old soul, a tale (just like the tale within) that feels as if it has been carefully handed down through time with a very important purpose. We, like Dash and Lucy, find ourselves “right smack in the middle of one of his tales…like bread crumbs for us to pick up and follow.” This is a dual-time story converging in an elegant, masterful picture of the beauty of love, of laying oneself down for another, hope, belonging, and the illuminating, life-changing truth of God’s forever love. Absolutely beautiful, brilliant, and breathtaking. If I could, I would give all the stars in the sky for this one.
Profile Image for Jerry.
4,694 reviews63 followers
November 19, 2020
I randomly checked this out from the new book shelf at my local library...and I'm glad I did!
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